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Message from the Chair regarding Fall 2021

BPK Students,

The shift to remote learning was challenging for all of us—students, staff, and faculty alike. And for some of you, it was exceptionally difficult—our hearts go out to you. We thank you all for your patience and dedication to learning and teaching during this time. Fortunately, we can now look forward to welcoming BPK students back to SFU campus in the Fall of 2021. And in doing so, we felt it was important to explain our strategy when deciding how BPK courses would be offered.

The university set principles for returning to in-person classes in the Fall but has left it to individual faculties to determine their specific strategies. This makes sense as English tutorials and Chemistry labs have quite different safety considerations. This is especially true for BPK in which many of our in-person learning experiences involve making direct measurements from people to help us learn about human physiology.

BPK’s faculty—the Faculty of Science—determined that a flexible and gradual shift back to in person courses was most appropriate given the hands-on activities of many of our large courses. The intent is to preserve a safe and vigilant level of student density in the classrooms and in our buildings. This plan that emphasized student safety directed departments to offer larger courses remotely, with an intention to have all courses in the Faculty of Science offered in person beginning Spring 2022.

Guided by SFU’s principles and Science’s plan, we in BPK determined which of our courses were to be offered in person, and which were to be offered remotely. We made specific course decisions with a holistic view of what courses have worked effectively in a remote setting. To allow the university to schedule rooms, and for students to learn about course offerings in time to plan for the Fall, we made these decisions about specific courses during the Spring of 2021 at the peak of the second wave of COVID infections. Within this context, we strived to make the best decisions about in-person offerings both for the student experience, as well as for the safety of students, staff, and faculty members. As you can likely understand, we know that much can still change and our leadership groups are continuing to monitor the situation closely, anticipating any shifts and planning for different outcomes. For some of you, our decisions may mean that you have fewer in-person courses than you wanted, or even need. We unfortunately must again ask for your patience as we use the Fall semester to transition back to a safe and more normal experience in the Spring of 2022.

BPK is planning voluntary gatherings to help welcome everyone back to BPK and the SFU campus this Fall. SFU recreation as well as student study and social areas will be open for those who are comfortable participating. BPK services such as advising will be accessible both in-person and remotely.

As you prepare for returning to campus this Fall or if you are attending SFU for the first time, please check the current COVID Guidelines for Students page on the Faculty of Science website if you have any questions.  And, of course, we encourage everyone to get vaccinated.

We are looking forward to seeing everyone again as we strive to rebuild the personal connections that are a vital part of our campus experience.

Max Donelan, BPK Chair